Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 14 (1997-1999). Copyright © Erin H. Kimmerle; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


What are the criteria used to select a mate? Study of this question on non-human subjects has shown many organisms choose mates based on assessments of health, youthfulness, and fertility, as signaled through certain physical characteristics. Investigations into the mating behaviors of humans, cross-cultural studies of attractiveness, and current medical research link features of attractiveness with health and support the evolutionary perspective that beauty is more than an arbitrary cultural creation. The characteristics which males and females find attractive in the opposite sex are largely the results of the evolution of sexual selection and serve to inform potential mates of the individual's level of developmental stability. This paper investigates which physical traits are used by males and females to determine attractiveness, the correlation between these characteristics and the developmental stability of an individual, and the subsequent effects on mate selection and parental investment.

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